Emmerdale will air a special hour-long flashback episode later this month.
The ITV soap has revealed it will confront the painful and difficult subject of child abuse when a much loved character begins to open up about her troubled past.
Charity Dingle - played by Emma Atkins - will be the focus of the landmark episode on Tuesday, May 29.
Emmerdale teased: "Charity has never really showed her true feelings apart from her ill-fated relationships with Cain Dingle, but they were too alike to ever turn passion into a long-standing union. Love seemed to allude Charity until recently when she began a passionate affair with Emmerdale vet Vanessa Woodfield, played by Michelle Hardwick.
"Although still one to tease and taunt Vanessa about their relationship, Charity appears to have found her match in Vanessa and has begun to open up to her partner about the abuse she suffered as a child."
The special episode will flashback to the life of a young Charity, played by Mica Proctor, and witness the pain, heartbreak and confusion she felt as a girl.
Emma Atkins said: “It’s such a brilliant opportunity for me to explore Charity’s past and a chance to discover why Charity behaves the way she does a lot of the time. It’s stuff that’s been locked away for years, very painful stuff, and she finally feels able to talk about it.
"The storyline is very serious in nature compared to the comedy I’ve done more recently so it is a wonderful challenge. The relationship between Charity and Vanessa is showing a different dimension to the usual gold digging Charity. It’s a love story and it’s breathing new life into my character, especially seeing her finally face up to her secret, dark past.
"It’s obviously the hardest storyline I’ve had due to the subject matter and I am duty bound to play it as truthfully as I can. If it in any way helps give anyone out there who’s suffered any kind of abuse the strength to open up, even just to talk about it, then that can only be the start of a good thing.”
Emmerdale has been supported throughout the research and preparation of Charity’s storyline by the team at North Yorkshire’s Rape Unit.
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Rape Unit said: “This is the third occasion that we have assisted Emmerdale with the storylines they have run around safeguarding and incidents involving victims of serious sexual crimes.
"They are so careful to ensure that they are portraying events correctly and providing the right information. They have always made sure the facts are correct and that victims can, and do get, the help and support they may need.”
Charity’s storyline has been produced by Emmerdale Series Producer, Iain MacLeod.
Iain explained: “Charity is a character with a complicated, fascinating and heartbreaking history - some of which has previously only been alluded to on screen.
"We wanted to do one of our signature, stylised episodes to fill in the blanks and explore the devastating, formative experiences she went through as a vulnerable teenager - adding in a massive surprise for viewers in the process.”
Emmerdale airs on ITV.